Book Review: For Two Cents I'll Go With You by Marcia Maxwell

For Two Cents I'll Go With You follows Walter "Pat" Lusk from his role as a shipping clerk for a chemical company in Michigan, through his training in the Army Medical Corps to his posting as a surgeon's assistant with Evacuation Hospital No.4 in France during World War I.

Pat, his imagination fired up by his grandfather's stories of his time in the First Michigan Volunteer Cavalry during the American Civil War, yearns for glory and similar stories to tell his own grandchildren. When America declares war on Germany, it takes only a little cajoling from his friend, Aubrey, before he decides to enlist.

Like so many others, Pat was totally unprepared for what he was about to face. What promised to be a grand adventure quickly palled once he and his friends saw the devastation in France, experienced the horrific reality of war and the randomness with which lives could be lost, even if not in a combatant role.

Most of the books I have read relating to World War I were written from a British or Australian point of view, so I was very interested in reading about the war from an American perspective. From the opening chapters I realised that the reasons for enlisting were similar and further on in the book that even though the Americans entered the war late, their suffering and losses were no less horrific. Although not set in the trenches, this novel still managed to convey the tremendous loss of life and the appalling conditions under which the men and women had to work and live.

Pat is the narrator of the story, making it easy to form an attachment to him and his friends. He takes the reader through a range of emotions. His initial excitement at enlisting, mixed with trepidation at what lay ahead, is soon replaced by anger, sorrow and despair, and eventually the realisation that there is no glory to be had. However, as expected when young men are thrown together in unusual circumstances, there is humour and a great deal of camaraderie.

As incongruous as it may seem, amid all the horror and chaos, a ginger cat called Pip brings a sense of normality and a modicum of comfort to the boys. The cat comes and goes from their billet, but is there to offer Pat solace after a very emotional time. That scene and the ending of the novel are with me still.

For Two Cent's I'll Go With You was inspired by letters written by the author's grandfather to his mother and the oral stories of his war experiences told only to her father. The result is a very moving blend of fact and fiction, enhanced by the simplistic style in which it is written.

For Two Cent's I'll Go With You is a tale of one young man's experiences during World War I: of courage, duty, endurance, loss and friendship. It is a very thought provoking read and one that I am happy to recommend.

Thank you to Marcia Maxwell for providing me with a free copy to read and review.


  1. Well, it makes sense that most of the WWI books are from the British side, since the US only came in at the end. But this sounds good. I just finished reading Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb which is WWI as well.

    1. I've not heard of Last Christmas in Paris. Will definitely check this one out. Thanks, Davida.